Food writer Ramin Ganeshram shares her Indo-Caribbean culinary prowess in her debut title for younger readers about eighth-grader Anjali Krishnan who really knows how to stir things up … and make it all taste great. Working part-time in her family’s busy roti shop – which specializes in Trinidadian comfort cooking – in Richmond Hill, Queens with her father and grandmother, Anjali has delicious dreams: “I want to have my own show about Caribbean food. No one has done that yet. I’ll be the first.”
At 13, she’s well on her way to chef-dom, learning all the family recipes from her grandmother, testing and sharing her own unique creations with some of the shop’s appreciative regulars, and taking serious classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. Then Anjali gets a chance to compete in a reality show featuring kiddie chefs: making the finals turns out to be the easy part, but convincing her parents to let her go to the auditions proves to be a much tougher challenge, especially since tryouts are the exact same date and time as the admissions test for a coveted spot to Stuyvesant High School.
Regardless of her parents’ old-world immigrant insistence on education first, Anjali is not about to give up her dream, especially when she’s can practically smell the curry: “‘… we curry just about everything.’” As talented as she is, however, Anjali’s still got a thing or two to learn about cooking up true success.
With all her cooking and writing experience, Ganeshram gets the blend just right in this toothsome tale about food, family, and feeding not just the belly, but nourishing the mind and soul, as well. The recipes read deliciously, too … as I’m an utter disaster in the kitchen, maybe I can rally my teenagers to give me a helping hand!
Readers: Middle Grade